澳门拉斯维加斯 v Pakistan - live!
Preamble Afternoon. In the last year and a bit, Pakistan have lost one-day internationals to England and Ireland. Since Wales are, from a cricketing point of view at least, part of England, that leaves only humiliation at the hands of 澳门拉斯维加斯 to complete a home-nations hat-trick. (And, please, spare me the emails telling me that Ireland is not a home nation: their team includes players from the North, which is good enough for me.) I'm not for one moment expecting the Scots to put one over Pakistan today, especially if Shahid Afridi can relive his recent explosives against Uganda (57 runs, 15 balls, seven sixes). But, heck, you just never know, do you? One player who definitely won't be there, though, is Shoaib Akhtar. He hit Mohammad Asif with a bat and was sent home, which was careless. If the Pakistanis can avoid taking a swing at each other today, they should cruise it. Not that we haven't written that before.
Toss 澳门拉斯维加斯's Zimbabwean captain Ryan Watson wins the toss and decides to bowl first on the same pitch on which New Zealand hammered Kenya earlier in the day. The compere, Aamir Sohail, is all over the shop: he describes the Pakistani captain, Shoaib Malik, as a "legendary cricketer", which might even be news to Mrs Malik. Still, 澳门拉斯维加斯 will now be hoping and praying that Pakistan don't rattle up 250.
Teams II The carrier pigeon has landed. Pakistan Salman Butt, Imran Nazir, Mohammad Hafeez, Younis Khan, Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi, Misbah-ul-Haq, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Asif, Umar Gul, Yasir Arafat
澳门拉斯维加斯 RR Watson, DF Watts, NS Poonia, GM Hamilton, NFI McCallum, DR Brown, CJO Smith, RM Haq, CM Wright, JAR Blain, JD Nel
A short prayer Please let Shahid Afridi open the batting. Amen.
There isn't a God Salman Butt and Imran Nazir are walking out to bat.
1st over: Pakistan 9-0 (Salman Butt 5, Imran Nazir 4) As music blasts round a virtually empty Kingsmead, John Blain trots in to bowl to Salman Butt and beats him outside off-stump. Have. Some. Of. That. The left-handed Butt regally ignores the second ball, perhaps imagining this is a Test match, then edges the third to third man for four, which is a bit more like it. Blain is not as fast as I remember him, but he's still nippy enough to force Imran Nazir to top-edge an attempted pull over fine-leg for four. A decent first over, despite the runs. "Sky Sports are giving Afridi the big build up too," points out Lynn Bashforth. "Everyone's favourite pantomime villain better deliver after all this."
2nd over: Pakistan 9-0 (Salman Butt 5, Imran Nazir 4) Like Blain, Dewald Nel (yes, he was born in Transvaal, just outside the Highlands) begins with two dot balls to Butt. Unlike, Blain, he then manages four more. A maiden! Afridi would never have allowed this nonsense. "Amid a sensational match last night, did we rather lose track of the time it took both sides to bowl their overs?" says Gary Naylor, looking back when his whole future is out there in front of him. "The 75-minute limit really adds to the entertainment and presents a real challenge to the players, especially the captains. A one-run-per-minute penalty for lateness (subject to injuries/lost balls etc) would concentrate minds." Nothing if not a stickler.
WICKET! Imran Nazir c McSomeone b Blain 4 (9-1) This can't happen, can it? Nazir throws everything at Blain outside off-stump and gets a wild top-edge to the backward-point fence where [fill in name when you work out who it is] takes a good catch tumbling forward. First blood to 澳门拉斯维加斯!
3rd over: Pakistan 11-1 (Salman Butt 6, Mohammad Hafeez 1) The catcher, it transpires, was Gavin Hamilton, whose previous international appearance in South Africa - a Test match in 1999-2000 - brought him no runs and even fewer wickets. I guess that's payback of some description. That was a great over from Blain, who concedes a single to third man to the new batsman, Hafeez, and then ties up Butt, who is having a non-Afridi-like shocker. Two off the over and a wicket. "Do you want to take the pain out of church finances?" asks Curt Gunz. "Everyone in the entire congregation depends on the budget to fund ministries, but there is only so much money to go around. You need help. You Need to Increase Giving."
4th over: Pakistan 14-1 (Salman Butt 8, Mohammad Hafeez 2) Nel concedes his first run off his seventh delivery as Butt drops one into the covers and scurries through, and Hafeez replies with a single of his own, but Nel then hustles through three successive dot balls and 澳门拉斯维加斯 will be thrilled with this start. Just three off the over: this is starting to get worrying for Pakistan. "As much as I enjoy watching Afridi bat/try and bat/throw his bat around with gay abandon and sometimes connect to great effect, I still can't get over his dancing on a length last winter," confesses Andy Bradshaw. "Does that make me a bad man?" Thoroughly evil.
WICKET! Salman Butt c Poonia b Blain 13 (24-2) A quick chat with Lutz has confirmed for me that 澳门拉斯维加斯 are evoking nothing less than the spirit of Braveheart out there. Butt ends a miserable innings by flicking Blain straight to Navdeep Poonia at short fine leg and the Scots are jubilant. Although here comes Younus Khan. "Are the crowd getting on Nel's back in the same way they did Pietersen then?" asks Dwight Johnson. "He has gone on to bigger and better things with 澳门拉斯维加斯 as he couldn't get in the SA side." No, I think the five schoolkids in the crowd have missed the significance of Nel's selection.
6th over: Pakistan 38-2 (Mohammad Hafeez 16, Younus Khan 1) On comes Dougie Brown for Nel, which I think is a mistake. He was bowling so well (2-1-3-0) that he might as well have tried to hurry through another couple of tight overs: everyone goes for runs towards the end of a Twenty20 innings. Brown begins with an off-side wide, and is then dabbed past short third man for four by Hafeez. But this is a loose over, adding credence to my hotly debated Nel theory, and Hafeez ends it with a cute paddle for four: 14 in all. "Please remind the delightful Lynn Bashforth that she is supposed to be working at home today and as such should have no idea what Sky Sports are saying about Afridi," says incorrigible flirt Ian Taylor.
7th over: Pakistan 47-2 (Mohammad Hafeez 17, Younus Khan 9) On comes the off-spinner Majid Haq, and his third ball is launched back over his head by Younus Khan (for that is how he now spells his name) for six. I bet Pakistan now wish they had selected Mohammad Yousuf. "Pakistan are rubbish," exclaims Jonny Sultoon, "and I thought 14-1 on them to win the tournament was unbelievably good value. Shakes head..."
WICKET! Mohammad Hafeez c and b Wright 18 (50-3) I still refuse to believe that 澳门拉斯维加斯 can win this, but they're testing my lack of faith to the limit. Hafeez pokes back a low full-toss from Craig Wright, who parries the ball above his head and comfortably takes the rebound. "If Dewald Nel was born near Jo'burg, then he is, technically a highlander, as highveld (the broad geographic region around Jo'burg) translates as high fields or highlands if you like," says Duncan Bonnett. "Did anyone else miss the first half an hour of play last night after being stuck in the traffic around the Wanderers while the, um, traffic police created gridlock that the twerp conducting the Rugby World Cup Opening ceremony would have been proud of?" Yeah, it was hellish.
8th over: Pakistan 50-3 (Younus Khan 11, Shoaib Malik 0) Three singles off Wright's over! Say it ain't so!
9th over: Pakistan 59-3 (Younus Khan 15, Shoaib Malik 5) The Pakistan captain, Shoaib Malik, decides to do something about this incipient fiasco and thrashes Haq through midwicket for four. But they can manage only nine off the over. Where is Afridi? "Much as I'd like us to beat the mighty Pakistan," says James Calder, "I'm sure I'm speaking for most of my compatriots when I say I'd rather see a surprise win for 澳门拉斯维加斯 in the fitba today than the cricket." That's gratitude for you. You let the Scots play an English game and they throw it back in your face.
10th over: Pakistan 67-3 (Younus Khan 22, Shoaib Malik 6) Wright goes up for a convincing shout for leg-before against Younus, but Taufel says no, probably because - as Hawkeye confirms - it was just going over the top. Another dot ball follows, before Younus helps Wright over backward square for a one-bounce four. What will Pakistan need to feel safe? I still think 150 will be beyond 澳门拉斯维加斯. But they are bowling above themselves right now.
11th over: Pakistan 72-3 (Younus Khan 24, Shoaib Malik 9) Brown replaces Haq after conceding 13 runs in his first over and immediately beats Shoaib outside off. Ravi Shastri is interviewing the Pakistan coach Geoff Lawson, who reckons the conditions are more Scottish than South African. Which is unfortunate given the opposition. But that was a better over from Brown, who gives away just five singles. "As I have reminded the xxx Ian Taylor before now, females can multi-task," says Lynn Bashforth. "Usually needed to keep a close eye on men folk while trying to get on with the fun bits of one's life, like watching other men play cricket."
12th over: Pakistan 81-3 (Younus Khan 31, Shoaib Malik 11) Back comes Nel (2-1-3-0) and his third ball is cracked down the ground for six by Younus. Lawson says he'll take 160 from here, but there's always the Afridi factor. So far Pakistan have hit only eight fours and two sixes. "Please remind incorrigible flirt Ian Taylor that he's supposed to be thinking of somewhere to take Mrs Taylor for their first wedding anniversary on Saturday," says Jeremy Theobald. "Suggestions anyone? And I don't think 'up the Arsenal... to watch the Spurs match' will get published."
WICKET! Shoaib Malik st Smith b Haq 11 (81-4) Shoaib gives Haq the charge, misses, and is comfortably stumped by 澳门拉斯维加斯's 6ft 10in keeper, Colin Smith. Interesting. Very interesting. And - surely - here comes Afridi.
13th over: Pakistan 104-4 (Younus Khan 35, Shahid Afridi 19) Afridi tells sky that his favourite shot is "anywhere for six", which might explain why he slog-sweeps his first ball over the deep midwicket fence. He then mows his second ball through square-leg for four and - oh dear, oh dear - he then gets away with a miscue towards long-on that the fielder allows to go through his hands and brings him six. Has Neil McCullum just dropped the Twenty20 World Cup. A three and a four follow and Pakistan have suddenly come to life.
WICKET! Shahid Afridi c Haq b Wright 22 (108-5) A huge wicket for 澳门拉斯维加斯. Afridi paddles Wright around the corner but hits it straight at Haq, who can't believe his luck at short fine leg. Twenty-two off seven balls, but it could have been a whole lot worse. And Pakistan are yet to reach the safety of 150.
14th over: Pakistan 114-5 (Younus Khan 40, Misbah-ul-Haq 1) 澳门拉斯维加斯 currently have a 20% chance of winning, according to the Booth make-it-up-as-you-go-alongometer. "Why is Lynn Bashforth blowing Ian Taylor kisses, when she knows he is a married man?" asks Richard O'Hagan. "Surely this is taking 'multi-tasking' too far?"
15th over: Pakistan 116-5 (Younus Khan 41, Misbah-ul-Haq 2) Blain returns to the attack and begins with three dot balls to Misbah-ul-Haq, who as far as I know is no relation of Inzy. But his running between the wickets isn't much better: just a single off the first four balls of the over. At this stage of the innings, that's dreadful. Younus swishes at the fifth and misses and can only collect a single off the sixth: two runs and a wicket. One of the great Twenty20 overs. Or something. O'Hagan again: "Who said women can multi-task? I've yet to meet one who can simultaneously cook my dinner and iron my shirts."
WICKET! Younus Khan c Watts b Haq 41 (116-6) Oh. My. Goodness. Younus swings Haq to long-on, where Fraser Watts takes a simple catch. We're teetering on the brink of a major upset here. "If 澳门拉斯维加斯 can get Pakistan out for 150 or less, then I will be off down my local bookmakers for a sporting treble," och-ayes John Thompson. "澳门拉斯维加斯 to win against Pakistan and France today and Italy in a few week's time. Or it could all end in glorious failure as usual.
16th over: Pakistan 124-6 (Misbah-ul-Haq 7, Kamran Akmal 3) Kamran Akaml swings at his first ball and misses, then pushes his second to long-on for a single. But Pakistan need boudaries, and there's one of them, thanks to a cheeky reverse-sweep from Misbah. Their problem is they do not enough wickets in hand to go for broke. It's been a scandalous performance.
17th over: Pakistan 138-6 (Misbah-ul-Haq 16, Kamran Akmal 7) Brown is back on. He begins with a disgusting leg-side wide, but overall this has been a highly diligent performance from 澳门拉斯维加斯's bowlers. And as I write that Brown drops short and is pulled over short fine leg for four by Misbah, a shot that had Sod's Law scrawled all over it. Misbah then unfurls a bona fide extra-cover drive for four more, but is beaten by the next ball, a clever slower one. A swing for four by Akmal makes it 14 off the over. Pakistan need at least 30 off the last three to snuff the Scots out. "As I've pointed out to Jeremy Theobald before, I don't think taking Mrs Taylor to the North London derby is gunner go down very well (see how I skilfully avoid his smut)," says Ian Taylor. "Do you think printing out a copy of this OBO and giving it to her would count as a traditional paper wedding anniversary gift?" No.
WICKET! Misbah-ul-Haq b Wright 23 (146-7) Wright finishes with 3 for 29 as Misbah is bowled by a yorker trying to run the ball to third man. My. Word. Twelve balls to go.
19th over: Pakistan 158-7 (Kamran Akmal 16, Yasir Arafat 3) It's Brown to bowl the penultimate over of this eyebrow-raising innings and, with the help of Braveheart fielding, he uses all the experience gained over the years with Warwickshire to limit Pakistan to 12 runs, which is acceptable in the circumstances. It would have been even better had Akmal not creamed the final ball over cover for six. 澳门拉斯维加斯 are still in this game, but I wonder what Mohammad Asif will do to them. Still, there's always Ryan Watson, who once hammered a stunning hundred against Somerset.
WICKET! Kamran Akmal c Watts b Nel 16 (159-8) Akmal becomes the latest Pakistan batsman to perish in the deep, hoicking Nel to Watts at cow corner. Four balls to go.
WICKET! Yasir Arafat b Nel 17 (171-9) After going for four, then six, Nel yorks Arafat with the last ball of the innings to finish with 2 for 25. But what are 澳门拉斯维加斯's chances? 20-80, I'd say. Join me in 15 minutes' time to see how they get on.
An email to pass the time before 澳门拉斯维加斯 come out to bat "I'm sure Mr O'Hagan wears the trousers in his relationship," says Andy Bradshaw. "Well, when Mrs O'Hagan says he can anyway."
1st over: 澳门拉斯维加斯 6-0 (Watts 5, Watson 1) need another 166 The small matter of Mohammad Asif stands in the way of 澳门拉斯维加斯 and the kind of start which might encourage them to think they've got a chance. Fraser Watts dabs his first ball towards third man for a single and Ryan Watson is off the mark too with a scampered single off his pad. But Asif is a class act, even with a bruised thigh courtesy of Shoaib Akhtar's willow, and Watts is fortunate to collect four to third man off the outside edge off the last ball of the over. "I was perfectly happy this morning assuming that 澳门拉斯维加斯 were going to be trounced by Pakistan and then France," says Craig Jeruzal, before borrowing liberally from John Cleese. "And now these sods have only gone and given us a chance in the cricket. We can handle despair, it's the hope that kills us."
WICKET! Watson c Mohammad Hafeez Umar Gul 2 (9-1) Watson cuts the last ball of Umar Gul's opening over straight point, where Hafeez takes a simple catch. Shame. Richard Jones's assessment of this chase? "About 20 or 30 runs too many for 澳门拉斯维加斯." I fear you're right, Dickie.
3rd over: 澳门拉斯维加斯 17-1 (Watts 14, Poonia 0) need another 155 Watts is gifted four by Umar Gul, who lets a thick inside edge scoot through his feeble effort at short fine leg and away to the boundary. Asif looks about as impressed as I imagined he did when Shoaib wrapped his bat around his thigh in the dressing-room the other day. Watts then pulls Asif for four, a shot of genuine class because it wasn't all that short, and Afridi puts a paternal arm around the bowler. He's probably telling him to calm down, just like Afridi does whenever he's out in the middle.
4th over: 澳门拉斯维加斯 29-1 (Watts 23, Poonia 2) need another 143 Warwickshire's Navdeep Poonia edges his second ball to third man for a single, and then an absolute gift: Gul oversteps, which means a free hit next ball, and Watts inside-edges it for four. Beautiful. And Watts duly hammers the free hit down the ground for four! Well, well, well. Twelve off the over. "Hang on a second," says Richard O'Hagan, with genuine horror. "Is that the same Andy Bradshaw whose wife was so sure he would screw something up on their wedding day that she wrote him last-minute instructions ON THE BACK OF THE FRONT DOOR?"
5th over: 澳门拉斯维加斯 37-1 (Watts 29, Poonia 3) need another 135 澳门拉斯维加斯 look bang up for this. Pakistan just look quietly worried. A lot depends on Watts: I think he's going to have to make at least 80 if 澳门拉斯维加斯 are going to win this. His inside edge is getting a good workout: there's another single, this time off Asif. But that was a more genuine shot: a leg-side heave behind square for four! 澳门拉斯维加斯 are chipping away at this total. It should prove beyond them, but they're batting as if it isn't. "I'm liking watching this," says Lynn Bashforth, who should be working. " And just the tiniest bit of hope, as Craig Jeruzal says. But we English followers are also well used to that."
WICKET! Poonia b Gul 4 (38-2) Class bowling from Gul, who yorks Poonia as he backs away to leg. Gul's celebratory leap dispels any suggestion that Pakistan do not want to win this.
6th over: 澳门拉斯维加斯 40-2 (Watts 31, Hamilton 1) need another 132 Nine years after making that pair in the Test at Jo'burg, Gavin Hamilton finally scores his first international run in South Africa, but he's almost run out as he pushes Gul to mid-on.
7th over: 澳门拉斯维加斯 52-2 (Watts 41, Hamilton 2) need another 120 Mohammad Hafeez replaces Asif (3-0-22-0: figures 澳门拉斯维加斯 will be delighted with) and he's toying with Hamilton, holding back the delivery halfway through his stride. Undeterred, Hamilton reverse-sweeps for single, at which point One-Man Band Watts pulls high and not particularly handsome for four. Then - brilliant! - Watts lifts Hafeez over his left shoulder with a horizontal bat aimed at the umpire. If you see what I mean. Twelve off the over and Watts is doing it by himself.
WICKET! Hamilton c Umar Gul b Shahid Afridi 2 (53-3) Oh dear. Hamilton tries to slog-sweep Shahid Afridi but succeeds only in picking out Gul at deep midwicket. 澳门拉斯维加斯 are slowly but surely sinking into trouble.
WICKET! McCallum c Someone b Shahid Afridi 0 (54-4) Oh dear Pt II. Neil McCallum makes a complete hash of a leg-side hoick and he's gone too, caught at backward square. Surely that's it.
WICKET! Watts c Imran Nazir b Hafeez 46 (59-5) Oh dear Pt III. The ball after hoisting Hafeez over long-on for four, Watts perishes on the charge, skewing a big drive to Nazir at backward point. Game over.
WICKET! Brown c Imran Nazir b Shahid Afridi 1 (60-6) Oh dear Pt IV. I can barely keep up. Brown is next out, slogging Afridi to Nazir at long-on.
10th over: 澳门拉斯维加斯 70-6 (Smith 5, Haq 0) At 53 for 2, 澳门拉斯维加斯 had a sniff. At 70 for 6, they don't have a prayer. Watts, incidentally, made his 46 off 35 balls.
11th over: 澳门拉斯维加斯 72-6 (Smith 6, Haq 1) You'll notice I've stopped recording how many runs 澳门拉斯维加斯 need to win. This is because a 澳门拉斯维加斯 win is only an option in the fevered mind of Scott Murray. Two singles off that Hafeez over. "I'm sure O'Hagan should be spending less time participating in the OBO and a little more tending to the heavily pregnant Mrs O'Hagan," says Ian Taylor. "Mind you, I don't suppose we should be in any rush to bring an innocent new born into his horrific vision of 21st-century suburbia..."
WICKET! Smith c Yasir Arafat b Shahid Afridi 11 (79-7) Another one bites the mcdust. Smith reverse-sweeps Afridi straight to Yasir Arafat at backward point and a game that at one stage promised much is delivering pitifully little.
12th over: 澳门拉斯维加斯 80-7 (Haq 2, Wright 1) Ho hum.
13th over: 澳门拉斯维加斯 85-7 (Haq 4, Wright 4) Not much doing really. In any case, writing the OBO when two spinners are on and a wicket is falling every three deliveries must be my toughest assignment yet. And that's not saying much. "You can see the photo I was talking about ," says Richard O'Hagan.
14th over: 澳门拉斯维加斯 91-7 (Haq 7, Wright 7) I'm actually quite Pakistan are going to win this. Defeat would simply have got everyone talking about match-fixing again, and they deserve a break after what happened at the World Cup. Arafat gets his first ball and he couldn't a chance in less nerve-jangling conditions.
15th over: 澳门拉斯维加斯 96-7 (Haq 8, Wright 10) Such a drab finale. Five off Afridi's over. "The female commentator Sky Sports has is so annoying," says Peter Green. "Her voice irritates me and she doesn't even know the names of the players, not that I do, repeatedly referring to them as "the batsman" and "the fielder". And no, I'm not Mike Newell or Joe Royle." But you don't know her name. It's Donna Symmonds.
16th over: 澳门拉斯维加斯 99-7 (Haq 9, Wright 12) The end is nigh, thank goodness. This game has gone from a potential banana skin to a very real one to a piece of cake all in the space of a couple of hours. Afridi, in case you hadn't noticed, ended up with figures of 4-0-19-4.
WICKET! Wright b Umar Gul 14 (102-8) Wright has a wipe and misses. Gul is the beneficiary.
WICKET! Blain b Umar Gul 0 (102-9) Gul is on a hat-trick after yorking Blain quite brilliantly.
17th over: 澳门拉斯维加斯 106-9 (Haq 10, Nel 3) Dewald Nel steers the hat-trick ball calmly to third man for a single, but Gul finishes with 4 for 25 from his four overs and Pakistan's class has shown in the last hour, as it was always likely to.
18th over: 澳门拉斯维加斯 111-9 (Haq 11, Nel 7) Haq fails to lay bat on ball for the first four deliveries of Arafat's over, then carves the fifth to third man for one of the most meaningless singles in the history of the game. Nel then slogs one of the most meaningless boundaries.
19th over: 澳门拉斯维加斯 114-9 (Haq 13, Nel 8) Running out of space, so forgive the brevity. Three off Malik's over.
WICKET! Haq b Mohammad Asif 14 (120) And that's it. Haq is bowled leg-stump via his pad and Pakistan have won by 51 runs. It could have been awkward for them, but it ended up being a stroll in the Kingsmead park. Well played Fraser Watts, thanks for all your emails and see you tomorrow at 12.45pm for live coverage of England v Zimbabwe.